Nutrition is poorly taught in medical school, hence it’s refreshing when we meet the force behind The Doctor’s Kitchen – Dr. Rupy Aujla, who, having attended Medic Footprints events in the past, describes how following his calling in nutrition and food has gained him substantial popularity in the media.
Hey Rupy! First off, what kind of stuff is in your kitchen?
My kitchen is relatively standard but with a few extras that only a foodie would have! For example, I have a massive selection of high quality organic spices. A lot of people don’t realise that conventional supermarket spices are lacking in flavour and potency. I have a samurai grade sashimi knife that I absolutely love, and a huge pestal and mortar for my pastes that I make from scratch. Other than a few extra gadgets, my kitchen is homely.
I used to be a huge meat eater, however since doing more research into nutrition I’ve recognised the need for higher quality ingredients and a focus on plants.
I make much more of a conscious effort to buy local organic produce and I experiment with different types of vegetables all the time. My kitchen now has Miso paste, different mushrooms, sea vegetables and bean pastas as standard. They sound a bit wacky, but watch this space, they’ll be as common as avocados in the next few years!
Why and how did you manage to turn your love of healthy eating and foodstuffs into the popular brand, The Doctor’s Kitchen?
I would say I’m still working on creating a brand.
Just about 12 months ago I was creating video recipes, talking about the benefits of ingredients and posting pictures of my food on Instagram. I didn’t actually think of it as a brand or a business, more like a passion project and a hobby! Now it’s become something a lot bigger than just me; it’s about educating future doctors and changing the emphasis on nutrition in medicine.
I’ve always been interested in life outside medicine hence why I’ve attended Medic Footprints events in the past and I chose to study Health Management as my BSc.
There’s much more to life than NICE guidelines, all medics need is a creative outlet and mine is in the kitchen.
One of Rupy’s delicious video recipes!
Where has The Doctor’s Kitchen taken you?
I’ve travelled the world, I’m meeting people I never would have met had I not had the confidence to put myself behind the camera.
I’m interacting with top chefs and pushing the boundaries of food in medicine.
I have a regular slot on BBC radio, I have plans for more media presence in the next year and talking at a bunch of festivals next to some pretty well known names in the wellness industry.
I’m an ambassador for a charity organisation called ‘ Made in Hackney’ who inspire locals to eat better by holding classes in their community kitchen, and I’m hoping to team up with Jamie’s Ministry of Food to create some cool community projects around food next year too.
Are you still working in Clinical Medicine?
Totally. When I started I was working full time in A&E in Australia. Now that I’m home I’ve decided to exclusively locum as a GP and work the odd shift in A&E / UCC. It gives me the flexibility for travel and to concentrate on my passion.
I’ve decided that life for me isn’t all about medicine, my calling is in food and nutrition and that’s why I’m following it.
You, and some other media medics seem to be at the forefront of this Functional Medicine movement in the UK. Can you tell us more about it?
Functional medicine is centred around finding the root cause of disease rather than merely treating the symptoms. It has a focus on nutrition and lifestyle interventions which is why I’m quite interested in it. I’m currently training, hence why I travel to the states so often, but I believe it has huge potential in the future of UK healthcare.
The principles of functional medicine are very simple: Eat, Sleep, Exercise and Think well.
What’s your favourite food?
That’s such a difficult question for me! I have too many favourites from Mexican, Japanese and of course Indian. Hmm, I’ll have to say Indian. The variety and spice is infinite, plus they bring medicinal qualities to food.
Any final advice to medics on nutrition and/or diversifying in their careers?
Watch this space. I’m trying to organise a simple way for medics interested in nutrition to gain experience and knowledge in this fast paced field. If you sign up to the Doctor’s Kitchen newsletter, I’ll keep you up to speed with all this new stuff coming out.
Don’t be afraid to do what you want under the shadow of failing.
One of the main reasons I waited so long to launch my project was the fear of backlash from my colleagues and what people would think of me as a doctor talking about food as medicine.
If you have a passion outside medicine that you want to follow, don’t allow the day job to get in the way. Contact people and you’ll be surprised how many people love talking to doctors who have enthusiasm outside their vocation.
For more on Functional Medicine, check out our review of the Applying Functional Medicine in Clinical Practice course, and our members-only webinar on How Nutritional & Lifestyle Medicine can transform you and your practice.